Sudden Tooth Pain? Here’s What Might Be Causing It

Sudden Tooth Pain? Here’s What Might Be Causing It

Posted by Stonewall Dental Associates on May 9 2023, 04:23 AM

Tooth pain can be extremely uncomfortable. It can be quite confusing for patients who do not know what is causing the pain. Knowing the possible causes of sudden tooth pain can help in alleviating the pain. 

There are many reasons why you may suddenly experience throbbing toothaches. Here are some of them:

Temperature sensitivity

The teeth may be sensitive to hot or cold temperatures like ice cream, coffee, or even cold water. This is known as temperature sensitivity and typically occurs with newly filled and crowned teeth. While your teeth could be sensitive due to an underlying cavity or other forms of decay, it could also be the result of gum recession. If you're experiencing severe tooth pain or sensitivity, call your dentist as soon as possible to address the underlying issue and prevent further damage. In the meantime, try avoiding extreme temperatures as much as possible to alleviate your pain until you can see us.

Gum recession

You may be experiencing tooth pain due to receding gums. Receding gums occur when the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth as a result of gum recession. The roots become exposed and vulnerable to harmful bacteria that can result in tooth sensitivity and decay. If you're suffering from sensitive teeth and notice your gums are pulling away, it's important to see a doctor. Your dentist will examine the area for signs of disease and will work with you on a treatment plan to prevent serious conditions from arising in the future.

If the recession is severe enough, we may need to cover the root of the tooth with a dental crown to prevent further damage and discomfort. If left untreated, receding gums can cause the teeth to become loose over time and lead to bone deterioration.


Your teeth are composed of three different layers: the hard enamel on the outside, the dentin in the middle, and the pulp on the inside. This pulp contains nerves and blood vessels that extend to the roots of the teeth through the root canal system. When these roots are exposed through gum recession, bacteria can infiltrate and start to damage the tooth. This process is known as tooth erosion. As the gums recede, this exposes the roots to acid from the mouth, which can wear away at the tooth over time. If the only sign of erosion is sensitivity to hot or cold beverages, this is a sign that your gums may be receding. If you experience pain when eating certain foods, especially sticky foods like candy and caramel, this is also a sign of root exposure due to gum recession. If caught early enough, a remineralizing treatment can help to repair the damage done to the tooth before it becomes too severe to repair.


A cavity is a hole in the enamel of the tooth caused by tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth feed off the sugars and carbohydrates in the foods we eat and create acids as they digest, which eat away at the enamel of a tooth. This will lead to the formation of a hole – a cavity. When the decay reaches the innermost layer of the tooth, called the pulp, this can lead to pain, and you may need root canal therapy to save the tooth.

If you're experiencing sudden pain in one of your teeth, especially one that has already had a filling, this might be a sign that you have a cavity. Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures can indicate tooth decay as well.

It's important to visit your dentist at the first sign of discomfort to protect your smile from cavities!

Gum infection

A gum infection can start within the gums, but it can spread to the jawbone and cause an abscessed tooth. Bacteria in the mouth can grow around the tooth without being detected and then cause an infection and swelling in the gum tissues. This can happen the same way around any infected tooth in your mouth. An abscessed tooth itself can also cause pain in your gums. Anytime you have discomfort in one or more teeth, it's important to see your dentist right away to prevent the problem from getting worse and becoming more expensive to treat.

Cracked tooth or crown

If your tooth suddenly hurts when chewing food or biting down, it could be a sign that you have a cracked tooth or a cracked crown. A crack in a tooth usually means that the tooth is decaying and needs to be repaired with a filling. However, if the crack extends below the gum line, it can leave your tooth vulnerable to damage from bacteria and the risk of infection. If a cracked crown occurs, the damaged tooth root will be exposed, putting you at risk for an infection.

If a crown comes off your tooth, please call our office to schedule an emergency appointment.

Sinus infection

If you experience sudden toothache pain or throbbing pain around a tooth on one side of your face and then immediately feel the pain go away when you touch the other cheek, you might have an inflamed sinus cavity that is pressing on the roots of the tooth and causing you some discomfort. Your dentist might prescribe antibiotics if the tooth has a cavity or gum disease and is infected or if the tooth is simply sensitive due to the dentin being exposed due to gum recession. If the tooth doesn't feel sensitive to the touch, it is most likely not sensitive to the temperature but just irritated from the pressure of the sinus cavity. If this is the case, simply place a warm compress on the affected side of your face for ten minutes a few times a day to help relieve the pressure and keep the area clean with salt water rinses. If all else fails and it concerns you enough, see your doctor and discuss your options for relief.

Jaw clenching

Causes of jaw clenching can include stress at work or home, sleep apnea, anxiety, temporomandibular joint disorder, or a misaligned bite. Bruxism can lead to facial pain, headache, earaches, and worn teeth. If bruxism is left untreated, you can experience tooth loss or decay, so it's important to seek treatment from a dentist who offers night guards in The Woodlands.

If you experience any signs or symptoms of bruxism, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. They can help you determine the cause of the problem and find a viable solution. A night guard is a custom-made oral appliance that you wear at night to reposition your jaw and prevent you from grinding your teeth. This can help minimize the effects of bruxism.

To learn more, visit Stonewall Dental Associates at 8719 Stonewall Rd, Manassas, VA 20110, or call (703) 368-1000.

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